Butterbeans all’Arrabbiata

Butterbeans all'Arrabbiata

Autumn tends to be characterised by a distinct group of ingredients and styles – pumpkin, apple, pies and one-pot meals – but that isn’t the whole story. A simple, frugal pasta dish can be comforting and delicious in equal measure. Arrabbiata, with its hints of chilli and garlic demonstrates this perfectly, especially with a few butterbeans thrown in for good measure. Of course, chicken is the most common pairing with this Italian favourite, but for me it can often be a less-than-inspiring ingredient. Butterbeans all’Arrabbiata mixes things up beautifully, bringing an already incredible sauce to life.

Butterbeans all'Arrabbiata

Though frugality is, obviously, one of my top priorities in food preparation, dried legumes aren’t always the answer. Though cheaper, dried legumes aren’t the best choice in every scenario. For instance, in my arrabbiata sauce I chose to use tinned butterbeans as they hold their shape – an important consideration in any pasta dish. However, when making a chilli or one-pot casserole it is less important to include perfectly whole beans. Ultimately, which you use should come down to the individual legume and the nature of the dish. Chickpeas, for instance, hold their shape very well when dried and if you’re using them for hummus it doesn’t matter anyway!

Butterbeans all’Arrabbiata

Serves 4


• 2 tins of plum tomatoes

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 6 dried red chillies, finely sliced

• 3 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 4 tbsp olive oil

• 2 tsp dried herbs

• 2 tbsp tomato puree

• 1 tin of butterbeans or equivalent dried, soaked and boiled

• Salt and pepper to taste

• fresh basil, or similar, to serve


1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion until translucent. Tip in the garlic and red chillies and cook over a gentle heat for a further 2 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, puree and herbs and cook for 30-40 minutes until the fruit has had a chance to break down. Tip in the beans and allow to heat through. Season and serve with penne and a hint of torn up basil.

Butterbeans all'Arrabbiata Butterbeans all'Arrabbiata

Cost: As I’ve said many times before, pasta dishes of this nature never cost very much at all. Indeed, this entire dish should set you back no more than about £1.20.


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34 comments on “Butterbeans all’Arrabbiata

  1. soffiagudrun
    November 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Exactly, keep it simple… with one little extra, butterbeans this time…

  2. Scott
    November 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Which dried herbs do you recommend?

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      I used a herb mix which has a relatively dominant mint flavour, which I like. It’s entirely up to you really… not parsley though. Dried parsley is pointless.

      • Scott
        November 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

        Mint forward herbs makes this even more intriguing. i’m going to have to try this some time. I was expecting something more Italian style – thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, etc

        • frugalfeeding
          November 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm

          Don’t get me wrong – it’s not an extremely prevalent flavour. Thyme or oregano would probably be more suitable.

          • Scott
            November 11, 2013 at 5:59 pm

            Suitable, or interesting? I mean, if suitable is going to translate to “boring” perhaps I’ll try the mint idea – maybe mint and oregano, or mint and a strong basil.

          • frugalfeeding
            November 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm

            Go with your heart – there won’t really be any competing flavours so it’ll work. I don’t think I’d describe any of them as boring – as long as they’re good quality and actually have flavour!

          • Scott
            November 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm

            OK OK take out “boring” replace with “traditional” 🙂

          • frugalfeeding
            November 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm

            I like traditional if it’s done well – now I’m just being awkward 😉

  3. Fiona
    November 9, 2013 at 5:44 am

    6 chillies!!!! I love butter beans, have never considered putting them with pasta before.
    I do dispute some of your costings; i’m a working mum and do a big shop once a week, pick up a few extra at the weekend, but the chillies alone in Aldi would be 80p or so.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      I got a bag of dried red chillies from an Asian supermarket for around £1.50 – there were at least 100 chillies in it. Paying 80p for 6 chillies is outrageous. You could get a handful (20 or so) of fresh chillies from ASDA for around 40p. My costings are accurate, I promise.

  4. Grace @ Cultural Life
    November 9, 2013 at 8:40 am

    This looks like a great lunch or supper dish. I love simple pasta dishes and butterbeans with tomatoes is a great combination. In Greek cuisine there is a similar combination (minus the pasta) with butterbeans cooked in a rich tomato sauce. It’s called gigantes plaki and it is divine. This recipe looks equally tasty! 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you – it was delicious. I’ll have to check out a recipe for that – sounds great, thanks!

  5. Penniless Veggie
    November 9, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Pinning this, looks thoroughly up my street! And I too like to use butter-beans in some recipes that call for chicken; they can be quite effective as an added ‘meaty’ textural dimension, just so long as the sauce (such as in this case) carries the bulk of the flavour for the dish. Also, while I mostly cook a whole 500g of any given pulse at a time – especially if planning to feet the world from one pot – I entirely agree about tinned pulses where appropriate, such as when used in smaller quantities where the cost of cooking from scratch would defeat the object of keeping things frugal – or indeed quick and uncomplicated!

    • Penniless Veggie
      November 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

      PS Approximately how much penne do you think this sauce would be sufficient for?

      • Penniless Veggie
        November 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

        Doesn’t matter now 🙂
        We had this dish this afternoon and it was perfecto! Super warming on a grey drizzly winter afternoon. We both loved it and will certainly be revisiting it in the near future. The beans added a pleasing extra dimension and the heat was spot on, though I used fresh hot little chillies harvested from my windowsill rather than dried I thought there wouldn’t be much in it.
        Oh, and I used roughly half a 500g packet of penne (or in other words what I had in the cupboard) which seemed just about right. Not much left between the two of us to be honest – would serve one – we had nice big bowlfuls of it, and he went back for seconds 😀
        Many thanks!

        • frugalfeeding
          November 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm

          Sorry about that! We got through around 400g for the recipe – 100g per serving roughly. So glad you enjoyed it. I hope you try some more of my recipes 🙂

  6. jencanjump
    November 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Trying this tonight, thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Chasing the Donkey
    November 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    I would never of thought beans and pasta – thanks. I pinned this to try later on.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      they work well in place of meat – I hope you enjoy it.

  8. musingmar
    November 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    This combination of beans and pasta hadn’t occurred to me before, but I’ll be remembering it some evening when I’m looking for a quick and hearty dinner. Your sauce sounds like it should give the boot to any end of the day blahs with all those chiles!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      I hope you enjoy it – I did :). Yes, plenty of chilli – not too hot though.

  9. Karen
    November 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    I love pasta all’Arrabbiata. I think the butter beans would be a nice addition to this dish.

  10. Skye
    November 11, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Love the addition of butterbeans to pasts. I bet that it’s very warming and filling. As well as healthy.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Yes, really warming and perfect for post-exercise food!

  11. kiran bella
    November 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

    great recipe. I loved it.

  12. Chica Andaluza
    November 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    What a great idea – I love butterbeans and I love pasta arrabiata (also love pasta fagioli) so can’t work out why I never thought to make a dish like this. So glad you did…am inspired!

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